7.2/10
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123 user 57 critic

The Jerk (1979)

An idiotic man struggles to make it through life on his own in St. Louis.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Navin / Cat Juggler (as Pig Eye Jackson also)
...
...
...
Richard Ward ...
...
Taj
...
...
...
...
Helena Carroll ...
...
Elvira (as Ren Wood)
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Sonny Terry ...
Brownie McGhee ...
Blues Singer (as Brownie McGee)
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Storyline

Navin is an idiot. He grew up in Mississippi as adopted son of a black family but on his 18th birthday he feels he wants to discover the rest of the world and sets out to St. Louis. There everyone exploits his naivety, but then a simple invention brings him a fortune. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A rags to riches to rags story See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Easy Money  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Steve Martin's favorite moment of the film, as he detailed in his 2007 memoir "Born Standing Up", was the scene in which he and Bernadette Peters sing "Tonight You Belong to Me". Martin felt the moment was touching, and waited in anticipation at the film's premiere screening in St. Louis. Unfortunately, much of the audience left during the scene to buy more popcorn. See more »

Goofs

When the new phone books arrive, Navin finds his name on a right-hand page in the phone book. However, when the madman randomly chooses a name to be his victim, he points to Navin's name on a left-hand page. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Navin R. Johnson: Huh? I am *not* a bum. I'm a jerk. I once had wealth, power, and the love of a beautiful woman. Now I only have two things: my friends, and... uh... my thermos. Huh? My story? Okay. It was never easy for me. I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Pig Eye Jackson - Cat Juggler (Steve Martin) See more »

Connections

Referenced in Freaks and Geeks: The Little Things (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Pick A Bale Of Cotton
Sung by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (as Brownie McGee)
Words and Music by Leadbelly (as Huddie Ledbetter)
Collected and Adapted by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax
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User Reviews

 
Overwhelmingly and brilliantly funny with genius throwaways.
24 December 2003 | by (Northern Ireland) – See all my reviews

To enter the realm inhabited by Martin's blissfully original caricatures, you must first be tested for wit, intellect and an innocent revelry in life itself. If you qualify, you will be led on to a rollercoaster of oxygen-sapping gags, stupendously clever motifs, brilliant performances and an absolutely fabulous script. There are gags here so new and surprising that to try and emulate them could only court failure. The joy of true love accompanied by him on the ukelele and on the last stanza by her on the........ trumpet: and a beautiful little song. Is it the humour or the innocence brings a tear to your eye? Don't call the dog "life saver", call him "s***head" - and for evermore, he is. The white man who is distraught to discover that he is not black. The goodbye note and Martin reading bits of words as they are washed away. The seminal "all I need" scene which is milked to the point of asphixia. The Jerk is simply the funniest most understatedly clever movie ever produced. There has simply never been anything this good, nor will there ever be. The message is simple and is a very old one: the buffoon as saint. From Bottom in Shakespeare, to Tristram Shandy, to Chaplin, to the genius understatement of Cary Grant, to Norman Wisdom: they have all touched on and come tantalisingly close, but they have all lacked one ingredient, an ingrediant calledSteve Martin. Like Orson Welles and Kane or Frederick Forsyth and the Jackal or Men at Work and Land Down Under, Martin has played his best shot first, unfettered, undisciplined, unconstrained genius. Let us all be better, brighter, cleverer and genuinely funnier by being the jerk. And if that's too frightening, just watch it.


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